Monday, April 05, 2010

Markets in Everything: Outsourced Grading

From today's Chronicle of Higher Education, "Some Papers Are Uploaded to Bangalore to Be Graded":

"Lori Whisenant knows that one way to improve the writing skills of undergraduates is to make them write more. But as each student in her course in business law and ethics at the University of Houston began to crank out—often awkwardly—nearly 5,000 words a semester, it became clear to her that what would really help them was consistent, detailed feedback.

Her seven teaching assistants, some of whom did not have much experience, couldn't deliver. Their workload was staggering: About 1,000 juniors and seniors enroll in the course each year. "Our graders were great," she says, "but they were not experts in providing feedback."

That shortcoming led Ms. Whisenant, director of business law and ethics studies at Houston, to a novel solution last fall. She outsourced assignment grading to a company whose employees are mostly in Asia.
Virtual-TA, a service of a company called EduMetry Inc., took over. The goal of the service is to relieve professors and teaching assistants of a traditional and sometimes tiresome task—and even, the company says, to do it better than TA's can."


At 4/05/2010 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5,000 words per semester

Is this a typo? This - roughly six pages of single-spaced 12-pt Times New Roman text - seems awfully little for a business law course. Is that what passes for "make them write more"?

No wonder graduates cannot write.

At 4/05/2010 10:58 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

GENB 4350: Business Law & Ethics
The Writing Center supports this 600-person senior-level business course through an extensive "Assess and Address" partnership. Each student's writing is assessed early in the semester based on four writing assignments. Students whose performance deems them most in need of writing support subsequently participate in multiple one-on-one writing consultations with a course-dedicated writing consultant. Consultations take place at different stages of the writing process as students compose their final paper for the course.

In-state tuition at the University of Houston is over $8000 per semester. Your class size is 600 and your "writing consultant" is in India. Where does all the tuition go?


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